life

Doubly Blessed

 

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My daughter snapped a picture of her graduation cake before we headed to the ceremony. She posted it on Instagram and immediately got tons of likes and an occasional, “I don’t know if I should laugh or cringe.”

“Laugh!,” she replied, “it’s hilarious.”

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“It’s not every day you get hooded,” she said.

And she was right. It was a special day.  Seeing the procession of hooded faculty entering the arena and then watching my daughter exit wearing a hood of her own.

I felt grateful all day.

“Do you feel more important now?,” I asked on the way to the restaurant.

“Not more important,” she replied, “just more accomplished.”

Good distinction.

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Celebratory dinner at The Common Grill. So delicious.

This morning I said, “I get why being hooded yesterday felt special. It’s kind of like you’ve entered the realm of sages, like you’re Obe Wan Kenobe.”

So my daughter is now a Jedi Warrior therapist who will begin her brand new job at 6:00 tomorrow morning.

This morning she got up early to run an errand.

When she returned she presented me with a Mother’s Day card and a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

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I handed it right back to her.

“I didn’t get you flowers yesterday so these are for you.”

“We’ll both enjoy them then,” she said, as she put them in a vase.

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Happy Mother’s Day to me!

Happy Mother’s day to you!

 

 

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life

Rest in Peace

My stepfather’s funeral was Monday.

And as is always the case at funerals, I wished I had better known the one being eulogized.

A friend of 50 years stood at the podium and shared that on one occasion, at the conclusion of a military event, my stepfather noticed that his coat was hanging next to the heavily decorated coat of a Russian general.  So he glanced to see whether anyone was looking and then reached into his pocket, retrieved a book of matches from the U.S. War College and slipped them into the General’s pocket, chuckling at the thought of that General moving to Siberia.

Ed’s longtime friend told many military stories – stories of toughness and fairness and excellence.

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It was those stories of toughness and fairness and excellence that made me wish I had known him better.

He concluded by saying that, aside from his own father, it was Ed who had the greatest influence on his life.

Even though Ed was technically my stepfather, I hadn’t known him as a father. I knew him as my mother’s husband – marrying after I was grown and out of the house.

As I sat beside my mother on the sofa in front of the casket learning more of who Ed was, I thought of the few stories I had of my own. Three.  None appropriate for sharing, but one truly eulogized him in the true definition of the word.

So I held that story in my heart and nodded my final respect as I watched a procession of soldiers pass by his casket each one stopping to salute the Colonel.

Then off to the cemetery for taps and a 21 gun salute.

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Rest in peace.

 

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life, love

Back to the Chapel of Love

My annual April 6 post, in case you haven’t read it yet…

“Hey Julie,” he yelled from his balcony as I was hopping onto my bike, “Would you like to go to the Monet exhibit at the art museum today?  My friend has extra passes.”

“No thanks, I’m going to ride my bike today.” I was always riding my bike back then.

“My friend likes to ride bikes…”  His voice trailed off as I rode away.

A week or so went by:

“Hey Julie,” he yelled, as my daughter and I walked out our front door, “Would you like to go to the final day of the U.S. Open tomorrow?  My friend has invited us to his corporation’s hospitality tent.”

Thanks, but I’m going to church tomorrow.

“My friend likes church,” he said as we smiled and waved…

On it went all summer until one day I finally said, “Why don’t you invite him to something sometime.”

So he did.  The something was a dessert auction and the sometime was November. My job involved planning an annual fundraiser.   Every year my daughter would slip a flier for the event under our neighbor, Chris’s, door and every year he would attend.  Alone.  But that year he brought a friend.  Four friends actually.

He called as I was putting the finishing touches on my presentation and asked if I wanted to join him and his friends for dinner before the event.  “Can’t,”  I said, “I have to get there early.  I’m working.”

I met the hub through a serving window.  He came to introduce himself and I reached across the counter to shake his hand.  Me in the kitchen and him in the banquet hall.  As I shook his hand everything in the banquet hall faded away and I saw only him, a solitary figure with a warm smile extending a friendly hand.

Because Chris brought FOUR friends, I wasn’t sure at first which one he wanted me to meet.  But after the introduction and handshake through the window, I was pretty sure it was him. At the end of the evening I sat down at Chris’s table and chatted with all of them.  Pre-hub shone forth.  He told me about the time he road his bike down a mountain in Hawaii.  Bike rider, huh?  He must be the one.

In early December I invited Chris to a concert at my church.  He brought his warm-smiling, friendly-handshaking, biking-riding friend.  He asked me if I would like to meet them for breakfast beforehand.  I did.  We had breakfast together, went to church, then did a little Christmas shopping.  No one wanted the day to end.  I mentioned that I was about to paint my condo.  Pre-hub said, “I’ll help you paint if you help me put up my Christmas tree.”  Deal!

So hub and I became acquainted with our backs to one another – him painting one wall and me painting the opposite wall.  As we chatted I realized that we had stuff in common.  And he often would say exactly what I was thinking.  I am sufficiently in love with myself to appreciate a man who thinks like me.

“I like to cook,” he said.  “How about if you and your daughter help me put up my tree and then stay for dinner?” I LIKE TO COOK?  That racked him up some serious points.

Then the day came when the painting was done.  As he was putting on his boots to leave I thought, This is it.  It’s now or never.  Turned out to be now.  As he was heading for the door he turned and asked me out on an official date.  I told you about that date when I told you about scarf from heaven.

We had been dating for about a month when he said, “I can’t believe no one has snatched you up.”  “I didn’t want to be snatched up,” I replied.  “Well,” he declared, “I am going to try.”   I was surprised by the smile that spread across my heart.  I didn’t think I would react that way.  But who can resist a man with a plan?

I wanted to make sure he loved the real me and not the me of his imagination.  So I asked him in an e-mail what he liked about me.

Here’s what he wrote:

When I look at you, I see:
the tender, unquestioning love of a mother;
God’s grace– a warm, compassionate, giving heart;
a heart in search of a true soul mate;
a gifted writer, speaker and leader;
a friend;
someone who likes me for being me;
an inspiration;
that little girl smile, the woman in your eyes that always gets to me;
passion;
home;
someone I want to know all about.

Okay, so he liked more than my looks, even so, I had been a single mom for 9 years.  My plan had been to delay dating and remarriage until my daughter went off to college.  But God was changing my mind about that and here I was with an eleven year old, considering marriage to someone I had only known for four months.  It was risky business.

So he quoted a Brooks & Dunn song:

“I know forever is a long, long time for a girl to put her heart on the line.  Trust is a tightrope that we all have to walk; but don’t be afraid.  I won’t let you fall.  With a little faith, mountains move.  I feel that you and me, we can’t lose.”

And then he laid it out for me:

The bottom line is….

1. Do you trust me to guard and protect our love and our relationship?
2. Do you trust me to guard and protect my family?
3. Do you think I will serve God with you?  … fix my eyes on the Lord?
4. Do you think I will provide a safe, secure and responsible home and
finances for us?
5. Do you believe that I will remain devoted to you?  to God?
6. Do you love me?
7. Do you believe that I love you?

#7 was the tricky one – hadn’t had a whole lot of experience with that one.

Even so, he bought a shiny diamond, got on his knee and made a stellar proposal.

We were married in a tiny chapel on a Friday morning.  April 6, 2001. There were 15 people in attendance – my daughter, two of my six sisters and a small assortment of co-workers and friends.  My dad had a balcony seat – watching and smiling from heaven.  My mom was on a cruise in the Seychelles.  The hub’s parents had health problems that made it too difficult for them to make the drive.  (On May 20 we had a “blessing ceremony” in his boyhood church so our entire families could celebrate with us.)

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My daughter served as an official witness. Days before the wedding she said, “Mom, you have to realize that it is going to be hard for me to share you after having your undivided attention for so long.”  I realized it.  And it all worked out. We still had plenty of mom and daughter time, and all these years later we still have our annual mother/daughter road trip.

After the tiny chapel ceremony we had a luncheon at hub’s house/by then OUR house.

Me, the Hub, the Best Man/Best Neighbor Chris

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Sneaking a kiss when no one was looking.  No one but the photographer, and now you.

The dress?  My friend bought it at an estate sale for $5.  She thought her daughter – who was my daughter’s age (11) – might be able to wear it some day.  It fit well enough and I liked it so it was a done deal.  Hub proposed at the end of March and we were married two weeks later – not a lot of time for dress shopping.  Plus I loved the whole old, new borrowed vibe of it.  AND I was way more interested in the marriage than I was in the wedding.  The pearls were a wedding gift from the hub.

It has been 14 years and I am happy to report that the hub has done a really good job of numbers 1 through 5.

As for #7?  We had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants the other night to celebrate.  I told him about the file I found with all the lovey things he had written back then.  He said, “It was all true then and it is all true now.”

And right then, with a delicious spoonful of chocolate pot de creme swirling in my mouth I realized that after 14 years of marriage I can finally answer #7 with a confident “YES!”

What has he gotten out of the deal?  Well, in his words I am “a good little cook.”  And when the nurse said he needed more fiber in his diet as he was coming out from under the colonoscopy anesthesia, I took it to heart and immediately planted two raspberry bushes.  Because raspberries have a lot of fiber.  I’m looking out for his colon and he appreciates it.

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Plus, as he says, I “tickle” him (make him laugh for those who are unfamiliar with the expression).  And I take really good care of our friends.  All in all it’s been a pretty good deal for both of us.  But I got the better deal.

(Originally posted 4/6/2015)

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family, life

McDonald’s has its pink slime, I have purple.

I was just awakening from sleep when I heard a whisper.

“Follow the diet and exercise and you will beat cancer.”

I didn’t have cancer, my sister did.

Aware that I had no control over my sister’s diet and exercise, and aware that God often whispers things well in advance, I made a pot of my nutritious, delicious chicken, kale, carrot, onion and white bean soup – garnished with really good parmigiano reggianno – and took it over to her.

I suggested we walk the two or three blocks from her beautiful house into her darling down town.

Just in case.

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile you know that my sister did not beat cancer.

Actually, she did, because she didn’t let it wreck her life.

Then Bebe was diagnosed with cancer in October and I thought maybe the whisper was for her.  I could control her diet and exercise so I took her for long walks, cooked balanced meals and carefully administered Chinese herb blends and supplements.

She died, as you know, in January.

So we adopted Dixie.

And almost immediately upon her adoption she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Unusual in dogs.

So now I’m cooking like her little life depends on it.

Because it just might.

She had her first chemo treatment yesterday – an injection of Carboplatin.

She seemed to handle it just fine until nausea kept interrupting her sleep and mine.

When she turned her nose up at her usual breakfast this morning, I made her some healthy snacks.

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I love the color combo.

1 cup organic wild blueberries
2 tsp. turmeric
2 Tbsp. dried basil – 4 Tbs. fresh basil is better but I’m out
2 Tbsp. coconut flour

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all whirled together

Add a pound of organic ground turkey.

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McDonald’s has its pink slime, I have purple.

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Plop the purple slime on a cookie sheet.

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Flatten it with a fork.

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Bake for 25 minutes at 350.

Normally she’ll gobble down as many of these as I’m willing to give her. Today she stopped at 2.

So I gave the food processor a quick wipe and made a batch of her other favorite.

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Whirl together a can of sardines,  1/2 tsp. turmeric, 1 egg, 3 Tbsp. almond flour and 3 Tbsp. hemp protein powder and plop it on the same cookie sheet. Why dirty another one?

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Flatten them with a fork and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Oh, yes, she was interested in these – ate 3 of them, I think.

Next up I made meatloaf: 2 pounds ground turkey, 6 Tbsp. ground hemp seeds, 4 oz. can of sardines, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 2 eggs, 2 ounces beef liver, 2 ounces fresh broccoli, 2 ounces fresh baby spinach, 2 ounces fresh red bell pepper.

Whirl it all together, spread it in a 13×9 pan and bake at 325 for an hour.

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The juices soak back in as it cools.

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Portioned out for dinner – Dixie gets 6 ounces, Maxy gets 12.

She gobbled a good bit of the meatloaf down.

I hope Dixie is the one who beats cancer.

But of course the whisper could have been for me.

This week I had two more pre-cancerous lesions removed from my legs – from my shins, which were flung over the edge of an inner tube exposed to the hot sun all day as I floated down the Verde River in Arizona while visiting my cousins in my youth. Sans sunscreen.

I don’t think they even had sunscreen way back then. Just tanning oils – shudder to think.

I remember putting cool washcloths on my badly burnt flesh that night. And I remember the steam rising from my legs as I did.

So if the whisper was for my future, what diet?

I trust I’ll know when the time comes.

Corrie ten Boom’s father didn’t give her the ticket until the train pulled into the station.

That’s probably when my Father will give me mine.

#symptom

P.S. No one wants to see a photo of a pile of dishes, but after all that cooking this morning, I’ve got a big one. Plus a million other things to do.

Serving God one beagle at a time.

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life

Family Threads

I interviewed my grandma in 1991 during one of her last visits up from Florida. She was 91.

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Here she is at 101. This time I was visiting her.

I wanted to record as much family history as she could remember so one evening, after my 1 year old was tucked in bed, I made us each a cup of tea and got out my notepad.

For the next hour I coaxed as much info out of her as her stamina and memory would allow.  So much tender, loving effort on her part, and mine, and I no longer have the notes. I’ve forgotten the names and the dates and the places, but a few of her stories made a permanent impression.

One such story came to mind this morning as I was folding freshly laundered sheets and blankets – wet in the night by my elderly – and, I fear, newly incontinent dog, Max.

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My sweet white-faced boy.

Standing in my kitchen – now doubling as a dog hospital – folding bedding, I thought of Christian Attridge and his wife, wish I could remember her name. I’ll call her Anna.

When Christian was courting Anna he led her to believe he was a veterinarian.  He wasn’t, he was a vet tech.

After they were married and she learned the truth, she exclaimed, “Oh no you don’t! You told me you were a veterinarian and you are GOING to be a veterinarian!”

So he went back to school.

Apparently strong women run in my family.

And so does taking care of sick animals. Though I think horses were my great grandpa’s specialty.

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#justfortherecord

 

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family, love, the friends

Sacrificial Gifts

A few weeks before Christmas my daughter texted me a picture of Sorel Slimpack II Waterproof Boots – in case I needed a gift idea.

I had already bought her gifts but I was tempted to buy just one more.  Except the hub said we needed to scale back this year due to all the vet bills.  So I resisted.

The Monday before Christmas I stood at the pharmacy counter with a prescription for a colonoscopy prep kit – the same kind my husband used back in October when he had his colonoscopy.  The kind that is a lot easier to take than the Golytely jug I’ve used in the past.

“Your insurance doesn’t cover this one,” the pharmacist said, “it will be $100.”

“What?” “Is that how much my husband paid back in October?”

She checked her computer.

“He paid $86, he had a coupon. I’ll try applying that same coupon code to yours.”

With the coupon it would be $91.  The price must have gone up she said.

“Is there another kind that my insurance will cover?”

She advised me to call the doc’s office and ask them to authorize a switch.

Golytely. The dreaded 4 litre jug.

Dreaded but 100% covered.

I texted the hub.  He said go ahead and pay the $91.

But then I remembered the boots. I was willing to suffer for the boots.

So I took home the jug.

The day after the colonoscopy I went to Nordstrom to purchase the boots – for $145.

“I thought I saw them on sale on your website for $114,” I said, as the clerk rang them up.

Apparently not.

As I was leaving the mall I spotted the same boots at another store – on sale for $109.

Back to Nordstrom to return, then back to Journeys to buy.

Those 8 hours of gut-wrenching misery – literally – plus the return and repurchase paid for all but $18 of them.  The hub could live with that.

Sacrificial Giving

As we were heading to the theater to see the matinee showing of La La Land the day after Christmas, I told my daughter the story of the boots – my own small version of the Gift of the Magi.  Not because I wanted a medal or anything, but because I wanted her to know the depth of my love. And because giving a sacrificial gift felt so good, I thought receiving one might feel good, too.  Judging by the expression on her face at the end of my story, I think it did.

Same Love, Different Scenario

That evening, after dinner, I said, “Time for family goodness.” (“Family goodness” = all of us taking the friends for a walk.  One of us takes the hound, another takes the beagle and the third is on bag duty…”)

“It’s almost dark,” the hub said, sitting comfortably on the sofa watching some sort of sport on tv.

“Bring a flashlight,” I replied.

My daughter didn’t say anything, but the look she flashed revealed that she wasn’t thrilled either.

It was a rare 50 degree day in December and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to walk the little beagle. She cannot tolerate the cold anymore and getting oxygen to her lungs is so important.  I had been waiting all day for the rain to stop so we could take her.  It was still drizzling when I made my announcement, but it was getting dark and the window was closing.

“Come on,” I said.

As my daughter put on her coat she said, “You’re never going to be satisfied with the manner in which I parent your granddogs.”

“I just won’t come over,” I replied.

She continued, “Because I’m going to treat my dogs just like the rest of the country does.”

It snowed 8 inches the weekend before Christmas.  I bundled the beagle up and took her for a walk a few days later when the temp rose to 32 degrees.  She begged to romp through the woods.  “Sorry, little Be,” I said, “but your legs are too short, your belly will drag through the snow and you’ll get too cold.” I promised her that once the snow diminished enough we would take a walk through the woods.

And on that rainy, 50 degree day after Christmas when the snow was just about gone, we did.

The five of us took a walk through the woods, the hub carrying a flashlight and me using the flashlight on my iPhone.

It felt good to keep a promise.

It felt good to take my friends for a damp, drizzly, sacrificial walk in the woods.

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It’s all the same.

I thought about my daughter’s comments as I was unloading the dishwasher the next morning.

It’s all the same love, baby girl, I thought.  The same quality of love that bought your boots kept its promise to the Be.

It’s that way with God, too.  The quality of His love is always the same  – whether He is extending it to the saint or the sinner.

It isn’t about how lovable we are, it’s about how able to love He is.

And I so love Him. ❤

#nomoping

 

 

 

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life

On the Threshold of Christmas

Our tradition has always been to cut down a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.

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But this year Netflix premiered Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on our annual Christmas tree day.

So instead of stepping directly from Thanksgiving into Christmas, we straddled the threshold; instead of bundling up and heading to the tree farm, we stayed in our pjs and parked ourselves on the sofa to marathon watch all four 90 minute episodes.

When I say “we” I mean my daughter and me.  Not the hub.

Six solid hours of Gilmore Girls with a brief intermission to walk the friends.

It was perfect.

Gilmore Girls was the weekly mother/daughter bonding date that took us exactly through my daughter’s adolescence. It began airing when she was in sixth grade and it ended just as she was graduating.

The show kind of reminded me of us – except Lorelai had her daughter at 16 and I had mine at 30. Lorelai gave birth out of wedlock, I gave birth in wedlock. Lorelai was hip and cute, I was not hip and only kinda’ cute.

But, Rory was smart and adorable and my daughter was smart and adorable.

It was just the two of them and they were close.

It was just the two of us for ten years and we were close.

When the reunion series was announced last summer, we started counting the days until we’d all be together again.

And it was perfect.

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And then this morning, one day behind schedule, we drove an hour to Nicholas Tree Farm and loaded ourselves into a wagon.

In search of the perfect tree.

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“Hey you guys,” I called them over, “how about this one? It’s nice and straight, and there is plenty of room between the branches for ornaments.”

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We had a winner.

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The blade was sharp, the trunk was slender and the hub had it felled in record time.

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Waiting outside for the return wagon.

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Waiting in the warming shack.

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Here it comes.

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Loaded back up with the loot.

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Shake, bundle and roll.

Then off to lunch.

#aliminalstepintotheyuletide

 

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